About the book:
In this tempestuous new series, rebellious hearts prove hard to tame—but can England’s most dangerous rake be captured by a wild Irish rose?
They call him Lord Ash, for his desires burn hot and leave devastation in their wake. But Gabriel Finch, Marquess of Ashborough, knows the fortune he’s made at the card table won’t be enough to save his family estate. For that he needs a bride with a sterling reputation to distract from his tarnished past, a woman who’ll be proof against the fires of his dark passion. Fate deals him the perfect lady. So why can’t Gabriel keep his eyes from wandering to her outspoken, infuriatingly independent Irish cousin?
Camellia Burke came to London as her aunt’s companion, and she’s brought a secret with her: she’s written a scandalous novel. Now, her publisher demands that she make her fictional villain more realistic. Who better than the notorious Lord Ash as a model? Duty-bound to prevent her cousin from making a disastrous match, Cami never meant to gamble her own heart away. But when she’s called home, Ash follows. And though they’re surrounded by the flames of Rebellion, the sparks between them may be the most dangerous of all…
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: The Companion’s Secret (Rogues and Rebels)
When Gabriel Finch, Marquess Ashborough, overhears his cousin and heir, bragging at a gaming hell about his anticipated future fortune, Ash knows it’s time to make some changes in his life. He needs to marry and produce an heir, but his own reputation is so black that no society lady will welcome his suit. Ash manages to buy up all the gaming vowels of a young lord about to be ruined, and offers them to the young man’s father in exchange for his approval for Ash to marry his daughter, Felicity. As Ash begins his courtship of Felicity, he finds himself greatly attracted to her cousin, Camellia, who is the companion to Felicity’s mother.
Camellia Burke was raised in Ireland, but desired to come to England so that she’d be close to publishers. She’s secretly writing a book, one loosely based on the life of her family, herself, and the matter of Ireland’s fight for independence. Cami has received a positive response from one publisher, who is willing to publish her book if she’s willing to make some changes to her villain, who needs to be fleshed out as opposed to the one dimensional character she portrayed. Though Cami is horrified that her cousin is being forced to marry such a notorious rake and gambler, she finds Ash is the perfect model for her fictitious villain.
As Felicity dutifully accepts Ash’s courtship, Cami begins to see the real man beneath the wicked reputation. Likewise, Ash has noticed Cami’s beauty beneath the spectacles and the ill fitting clothes, but he’s attracted to her spirit and her fierceness, as well. Though his intended bride is kind, dutiful, and beautiful, his heart longs for Cami. But Ash has painted himself into a corner, as he needs a society lady for his wife, not an Irish solicitor’s daughter, if he’s to repair his black reputation. When Cami is urgently summoned back to Ireland by her family, Ash decides he must follow, even though he desperately needs to stay in town to fight the slander of an enemy determined to steal everything from him.
I love both Cami and Ash so much – they have many facets to their character, and aren’t written as the stereotypical rake and bluestocking. Ash almost feels cursed, as everyone he’s ever loved has died. He threw himself into improving his estate, and along the way became a successful gambler, a rake, and a man with many enemies, but only one true friend. Still, he secretly is a very generous and caring man who longs for someone to love him – the man, Gabriel. Cami suffered betrayal in love at a young age, and while she decided never to marry, she didn’t become hard and cold. She loves her family, who demands too much of her, and shows Ash that she does see, and love, the man he truly is – Gabriel.
THE COMPANION’S SECRET is the first book I’ve read by Susanna Craig, and I am in love with her writing. This story flowed beautifully, and captivated me so much that I read it in one sitting. The love developing between Ash and Cami was so strong and emotional, that my heart was breaking for them when their situation seemed impossible.
He wrapped his arms around her, and she laid her cheek against his chest, as she had done that day in the carriage. Her fingertips played in the knot of his cravat, stirring up the warm scent of his cologne, and she nestled closer to draw it in, draw him in.
They fit together, two sharp edges locked tight and smooth, and she knew then that she would fight his demons, bare-handed if she must, but they could not, would not have him. He was hers.
In addition to the sizzling chemistry and strong romance between Ash and Cami, there were well rounded secondary characters who added much to the story, making THE COMPANION’S SECRET one fabulous read that I recommend most highly to lovers of a beautifully written historical romance. (As originally reviewed for Buried Under Romance)